A quick look at the figures behind the Commonwealth’s pension shortfall.
Mary Ann Gerth/Courier-Journal/USA TODAY Network/Wochit

This story will be updated.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Retirement Systems board deferred action Thursday on a request that it urge the governor and lawmakers to honor public employees’ contract rights as they tackle pension reform.

The motion was made by Jerry Powell, a board member representing the County Employees Retirement System, and it sparked a brief debate over whether it is the board’s job to make such a request.

The board ultimately voted only to refer the matter to its attorney for review and report back at the next meeting on whether the motion is appropriate.

Gov. Matt Bevin has said he will call a special legislative session later this year to consider pension reforms. While the governor has not specified changes he will seek, a consultant recently made many recommendations to help gain control over the state’s multibillion-dollar pension debt.

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Among those recommendations are some that advocates for retirees and employees say violate the so-called “inviolable contract” within state law that assures benefits granted an employee at the time of his or her employment will not be diminished.

Jim Carroll, president of the advocacy group Kentucky Government Retirees, also asked the board on Thursday that it officially take the position that it would defend the contract rights of retirees and employees — in court if necessary.

After Thursday’s meeting, Carroll said he was frustrated by the board’s failure to act.

“We either have contract rights or we don’t. This board either has a duty to enforce those rights, or it doesn’t,” Carroll said. “If it has taken a position that it doesn’t have that duty, I would like for them to transparently explain why they don’t believe they have that duty.” 

Reporter Tom Loftus can be reached at (502) 875-5136 or



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